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United Methodist Church sends messages of hope to nation

 


United Methodist Church sends messages of hope to nation

Sept. 2, 2005

By Deborah White*

Millions of Americans will see messages of hope from the United Methodist Church as they watch the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on Cable News Network over Labor Day Weekend. The messages will appear in the corner of the TV screen for five or 10 seconds.

The wording is simple: "Support hurricane relief efforts at www.MethodistRelief.org. The People of the United Methodist Church." The messages will begin airing as early as Saturday.

CNN is making the spots available as part of the denomination’s national advertising and welcoming campaign that invites people to join in a journey of faith. The theme is "Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors." A new commercial called "The Journey" began airing Aug. 29 on 18 cable networks and will continue through Sept. 18. To view "The Journey," see http://www.umc.org.

United Methodist Communications is also developing a USA Today ad expected to run Sept. 7 with the theme "Be the Hope." Part of the ad will say, "At this time of great loss, let us commit to a hopeful, compassionate community, now and for the long-term future. Give through whatever means you choose. Volunteer. Be the hope."

"It’s important for us as a church to say to the people of the Gulf Coast that we are concerned, and that we are praying with them and will be with them through the entire long recovery process," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive at United Methodist Communications.

"We as a church can send a message to the whole of the United States, if not to the world, at times like these that community is important, that we need each other, that sharing with each other is a healing process. It restores the brokenness," Hollon said.

United Methodists will gain another avenue for raising money for hurricane relief with the launch soon of a new online giving feature called "Friends Asking Friends," as a part of www.UMC.org, the denominational Web site. It is an initiative of the United Methodist Committee on Relief and United Methodist Communications.

"Friends Asking Friends" allows organizations and individuals to create their own hurricane relief fund-raising Web pages and to invite others to give online. For example, local churches can choose photos from United Methodist News Service’s photo gallery  (on the News section of www.umc.org) and write their own words for the page. They can then e-mail church members and friends, asking them to visit these new Web pages and donate online. All of the money donated will go directly to UMCOR.

"You’re saying to the people you know, ‘This is something I really believe in,’" said Matt Carlisle, executive producer of UMC.org.

One of the key things that happens in emergencies such as this is the use of the Internet, and the distribution of information through the Internet has been unprecedented with this particular disaster," Hollon said. This new online giving feature makes it "possible for me as a friend to send you a bit of information about the United Methodist Committee on Relief response and encourage you to contribute. You can then pass that on, so that a network of giving and sharing of information is possible."

A Web page for posting prayers and laments in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is the newest of a growing array of prayer and devotional resources. The joint venture of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship and United Methodist Communications can be accessed at "Lord, Hear Our Prayers".

Worship materials related to the hurricane, including prayers, litanies and hymns, are available from the Board of Discipleship at www.gbod.org/worship. Look for "Worship Resources for Times of Crisis" and "When the Wind Blows: Worship Resources for Use after Hurricanes or Other Natural Disasters."

Susan Hay, director of ministries with youth at the Board of Discipleship, encourages youth workers to use the resources this weekend. "This might provide an opportunity for the youth of your church to invite the church family to join you in a worship or prayer service for those affected by this devastating hurricane," she said.

Other worship and prayer resources include:

Upper Room Living Prayer Center: www.upperrom.org/prayer_center or 1-800-251-2468. Prayers can be submitted in both English and Spanish.

"Words of Comfort" from the Upper Room: www.upperroom.org/comfort.

Prayers for emergency workers and caregivers from the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry: www.gbhem.org/hurricaneresponse.html

*White is associate editor of Interpreter magazine and Interpreter OnLine.

News media contact: Kathy Noble, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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